South Pacific RMFO Statement

Date: November 12, 2009

At the opening of the 8th Annual Meeting of of the South Pacific RFMO in Auckland (8-14th November) the DSCC made the following statement:

Mr Chairman, we have made our comments available on the draft Convention text. It is critical that the agreed text represents the very best practice available to ensure the sustainability of fisheries, ecosystems and the marine environment in the area.

Our comments are directed to that end. We highlight the need to properly protect biodiversity and ecosystems, to use modern area based management techniques in order to put into place marine protected areas, to ensure effective decision-making, to ensure transparency, and to ensure effective compliance and enforcement.

Secondly, we remind participants that conservation and management measures must be established before opening new regions of the Area or expanding fishing effort or catch beyond existing levels, to protect VMEs and to ensure the long term sustainability of deep sea fish stocks.

Thirdly, next week the review of resolution 61/105 will conclude in New York. The DSCC and its associated NGOs are calling for this review to be effective and to ensure that the essential elements – impact assessments, closure of areas, ensuring the long term sustainability of deep sea stocks, and the move-on rule, are implemented properly. Fishing against these requirements is quite simply IUU fishing and must stop.

Mr Chairman, we continue to be concerned at the failure to conduct proper impact assessments, or any at all. The so-called preliminary risk assessment submitted for bottom gillnetting by EC vessels falls far short of requirements, as the Science Working Group report makes perfectly clear. Australia, the EC and New Zealand have all had vessels bottom fishing in 2009. They should all have conducted and publicised impact assessments as required by resolution 61/105 and the Interim Measures. Most have not, which makes their fishing IUU.

We call on those States that are bottom fishing but that have not undertaken and notified their compliant impact assessments, to notify compliant assessments to this meeting this week, or to withdraw the authorizations of all of their vessels to bottom fish.